updates from pastor scott


 

             A Hope for Normal?


During the Advent season, we will hear often the theme of “Hope”.  Whether it be lighting a hope candle, the hope of looking forward to a Merry Christmas, or in a year such as this –  the hope we have that next year will be better than the one we just endured.


Recently, governmental and other societal leadership have been speaking of the “hope” that we should have…a light at the end of the tunnel (so-to-speak) to this pandemic.  They generally are referring to the anticipated vaccinations – of which they are optimistic will be effective enough to curb the pandemic and pave a way back to “normal”.


And this is just the thing I find intriguing.  Of course, like everybody else, I too want to combat the pandemic, and to return back to the getting-together with friends and family, going out without a mask, and all the other things which we quite frankly took for granted.  However, I find it intriguing that our societal hope is framed in terms of a “return to normal”.  As if everything was fine and magnificent before, and if we could only return to that “normal” state, then we’d once again return to having all the love & support we ever needed, and every societal ill would suddenly disappear.  In actuality, putting ourselves back to “normal” is not necessarily the best place we could be.


For the “normal” human condition – contrary to what many would advocate – is not innately sharing, not loving, and does not easily reach across societal and social boundaries.  Instead, we tend to draw lines and distance others.  This is why Jesus had to preach on loving one another and command us to put others more highly than ourselves.  Because it isn’t natural to us.  Who’s ever heard of anyone ever having to “teach” selfishness to their children?  Or to instruct others to stop caring for one another so well?  It is practically laughable.


So when we simply “hope” to return to normal – we set our sights too low.

When an athlete is training, they may find themselves doing laps or weights that put strain upon them.  The novice shuns these times, but the skilled athlete uses them to get better.  It is the hardest workouts that can provide the greatest gains if we let them.


And we should have a similar approach to our “hope” for the future.  Not simply a hope for a return to normal, but to dare to hope and strive for being better than we were before.  To let this pandemic shape us and “better” us.  To have a hope that goes beyond ourselves and leans upon higher and divine transformation.  The hope that Jesus has – that we see in page after page of the Bible – is for us to be beyond the human condition, and to adopt a “kingdom of God” approach to living.  That is where our hope should rest.


And as Christians, we understand that what Jesus ultimately was pointing us to was that our hope should be in the Lord, not simply in the limits of mankind.  Certainly we want to keep pressing that bar higher and higher, but we do so while realizing that without the help of an outside divine force, that our natural inclinations and predilections will always hamper and limit our “normal” to lower than what it should be.  And this world is not all that we have and all that we can hope for.  Instead, as Christians, our hope is in the Lord, and our hope in God leads us to a hope that goes beyond even this world to glorious eternity in his presence.


Therefore, when you hope, pray for a hope for a return to a higher place than simply back-to-normal, and instead that the Lord shapes hearts and souls during this time to reach outside themselves and to grasp for God – a God that embodies everlasting hope.


Christmas Blessings,

Pastor Scott



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